Are Metalphoto Nameplates Really Indestructible?

The National Association of Graphic and Product Identification Manufacturers has declared metalphoto ® nameplates to be the most durable of aluminum identification plates ever manufactured. The Naval Warfare Center conducted tests on several UID materials and determined that metalphoto nameplates developed on photosensitive anodized aluminum achieved “the highest score environmental survivability” of any UID material evaluated. But does that really mean it is “indestructible?”

Here at Data Graphics, we absolutely love printing metalphoto nameplates. As a Metalphoto Certified Converter, we know that we get the metalphoto process done correctly, and we know that if the metalphoto process is done correctly, it will last for decades and withstand the most intense abuse. We’ve actually worked with some of the larger, more demanding manufacturers in America for decades. So we weren’t terribly surprised when one client put the nameplate to the ultimate test.

This all stems from a rather interesting encounter with one of the leading heavy equipment companies in America. Jacquelyn Singer, our Director of Business Development, was having a meeting with this particular firm. This is a great company and our contacts have a good sense of humor. She has always described metalphoto nameplates and labels as being essentially indestructible. During the meeting, they had her repeat her common claim. When she did, however, it was met with smirks. Jacquelyn was a little caught off-guard and unsure what to make of it. Then the company presented a barcoded, custom metalphoto label we produced for them. It had been beaten and crushed with a sledgehammer. It was bent and mangled. After all, it is a relatively thin piece of aluminum. “How can you claim,” they asked Jacquelyn, “that such a label is indestructible?”

Figure 1- are metalphoto nameplates really indestructible? Our client gave their functionality an incredible test.


Jacquelyn responded in two ways. First, the nameplate was being tested outside of its actual work environment. These bar-coded labels were meant to be affixed to large steel components, machinery parts, and other heavy equipment. Would the nameplate have been able to endure this abuse had it been affixed to the proper components, consistent with its actual purpose? We believe it would. Moreover, if the heavy equipment were to buckle or shear, would they really be concerned about the nameplate?

Then she brought the discussion to a positive conclusion. “Let’s try to scan it now,” she said. Sure enough, the barcode was still scannable. Even after enduring unrealistically harsh abuse, the metalphoto nameplate still retained its functionality. It was, in terms of its utility, still essentially indestructible. We love being able to supply them with a product we know will last — one that we will not have to worry about replacing, or our clients having problems with in the future.

We have changed the way we talk about metalphoto labels a little bit now. We discuss them being as durable and rugged than the machines they are put on, and their virtually indestructible functionality. It also gives us the chance to sometimes tell this great story of the “destructible” but still readable label. And that heavy equipment company? They are one of our most valued customers, and we think that they will be clients for life. Not only do they have a great sense of humor, but they clearly have the highest of standards. Those are our favorite types of clients, and exactly the types of clients the metalphoto process was made to satisfy.

Brad Butterstein is President of Data Graphics Inc. Brad joined Data Graphics 19 years ago and has been instrumental in its growth and development into one of the most award-winning, highly certified firms in America. He has worked with a number of the nation’s top medical device manufacturers, and has extensive experience in overlay design. Brad leaves in Apopka, FL with his wife and two children. He enjoys the rooting for the Buffalo Bills, participating in his sons’ soccer tournaments, and making the nation’s best overlays and labels.

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1 Response

  1. Greg McCarthy says:

    Excellent product. Looks similar to laser etched label. Being able to use aluminium is great feature.

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